Perceived Community Resilience toFloods and Droughts Induced by Climate Change in Semi-arid Ghana

In Sustainability Challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa I: Continental Perspectives and Insights from Western and Central Africa
Chapter: Chapter 6
Book Chapter

Droughts and floods are some of the major climatic hazards in the semi-arid areas of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Climate change affects the periodicity and severity of such hazards, and eventually the well-being of many rural communities in the region, including semi-arid Ghana. Enhancing the resilience of local communities to droughts and floods would be a necessary step to meet different national development priorities. The aim of this chapter is to assess the perceived community resilience to recurrent floods and droughts induced by climate change. We focus on two purposely selected districts in the Northern and Upper West regions of Ghana that have varying degrees of vulnerability to floods and droughts. Following an extensive literature review, we develop a conceptual framework that contains the most commonly used elements of ecological, engineering and socio-economic resilience. We populate this framework with data collected through 30 focus group discussions (FGDs) with elderly men, elderly women and young adults across ten local communities. The resilience perceptions for each group are elicited using a customized Likert-type scale. The results reveal that local communities and study groups across the case districts consistently perceive their overall resilience to be “low” or “very low”, with little variation between drought-prone and flood-prone sites. Despite the large consensus in most resilience elements, young adults tend to report lower resilience scores compared to elderly men and women. These findings reflect empirical evidence about the low adaptive capacity to human and natural shocks and stresses in semi-arid Ghana. This bottom-up approach can be used as a pre-planning tool to identify priority areas and inform the development of context-specific interventions to enhance community resilience to floods and droughts.